Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Baakens from Pristine Lagoon to Commercial Area

From a pristine lagoon in 1820 to a commercial area in forty years, is how long it took to destroy this once virgin wilderness. Unlike the Settlers, the previous inhabitants of this area, the Khoisan, without any discernible talent at building permanent structures, left no detectable evidence of their presence in the area over eons.

As my blog entitled “Port Elizabeth of Yore: What Happened to the Baakens Lagoon? deals with the why and how the lagoon was reclaimed, instead this blog will focus on the various attempts at bridging this normally placid waterway and the development of commerce and industries within the restricted confines of the valley floor.

Main picture: The bridge across the Baakens in 1866 before the flood showing the lagoon

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Official Language, Mother Tongue & Lingua Franca: How should these sensitivities be handled in a multicultural society?

A Personal View – April 2014

Theoretically in terms of the South African Constitution all languages are guaranteed equality of treatment but is it possible or even desirable in such a multilingual country with nine official languages?

A family history will illustrate how “transient” or flexible the language issue really is. My late maternal grandmother [nee Nel] was born in the 1870s to 1880s on a farm in the Middleburg District in the Eastern Cape. With a paucity of other white families in the area, her natural play mates were the children of the farm workers. Naturally Xhosa became her stronger language as most of her communication was with her friends, the black Xhosa speaking children on the farm. At the time her family spoke a pidgin version of Dutch which was prevalent at the time.

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